Bad Breath? Here’s Why

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Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an unpleasant odour originating from the mouth. It can occur as a temporary or chronic problem in different people. Specific foods, bad habits, and various health conditions all cause this condition. It’s not easy to ignore halitosis because it causes embarrassment, and in some cases, leads to social anxiety.

People try many tactics to fight bad breath like chewing gum, mints or even using mouthwash. However, most of these are temporary measures that don’t address the source of the problem. Although simple self-care techniques and consistent dental hygiene solve most cases of bad breath, they might not work in others.

If you’ve tried every solution to fight bad breath, this might be an indication of other health problems. From our team at Valley Ridge, here is a list of the probable conditions causing chronic halitosis. If you identify with any of these conditions, contact our team today to make an appointment.

1) Dry Mouth

A dry mouth, or Xerostomia, is an unpleasant feeling of dryness of the mouth. This condition is known to cause bad breath. It can also lead to other dental problems such as infections in the mouth.

Xerostomia normally occurs when the production of saliva in the mouth decreases. This is because saliva plays a crucial role in the body. It moistens the mouth, removes food particles that cause bad odour, and cleans away dead cells that accumulate on the cheeks, gums, and mouth.

A dry mouth normally occurs when a person is sleeping. The condition might worsen if you are used to sleeping with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth is a result of problems with your salivary glands. Other causes include stress, prescription medicines, and the use of alcohol or marijuana.

2) Gum Disease

If you are experiencing a constant bad taste or bad breath that won’t go away, you might be suffering from advanced gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is caused by plaque build-up on the teeth. Other factors that might lead to gum disease include:

  • Illnesses that interfere with the immune system such as HIV and cancer
  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, monthly menstruation and menopause
  • Medications that reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Hereditary dental diseases

Your dentist might suggest nonsurgical therapy to control bacteria growth or, in extreme cases, a surgical procedure to restore damaged tissues. General oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and using mouthwash regularly can help to prevent plaque and bad breath.

3) Medical Conditions

In case your doctor has ruled out other probable causes of chronic halitosis, there might be a disease-causing it. Some of the diseases known to cause bad breath include:

  • Diabetes
  • Sinus condition
  • Liver disease
  • Gastric reflux
  • Kidney disease

You need to be checked for other noses, mouth and throat problems. Chronic inflammation in the throat can lead to postnasal drip, which causes a bad odour in the mouth.

If you notice chronic halitosis in young children, it might be a symptom of a foreign body. For instance, the child might be having a piece of food lodged in their nostril. Other rare medical conditions that might cause halitosis to include:

  • Aspiration pneumonia: This is an infection in the airways or lungs caused by inhalation of saliva, liquids, foods or vomit.
  • Bronchiectasis: This is a permanent condition that normally occurs when the airways become wider, causing mucus build-up. The mucus causes a bad odour to the mouth.
  • Ketoacidosis: This condition normally affects diabetic people. When the insulin levels are low, the body starts to use fat stored in the body, which leads to the production of ketones. These ketones have an unpleasant odour, which can cause bad breath.

4) Digestive Problems

Poor digestion, bowel disorders, and constipation are common causes of mouth odour. People who experience frequent acid refluxes are prone to this condition. Bad breath occurs when consumed foods make their way through the esophagus. Seek medical assistance if you suffer from any digestive issues.

5) Bacteria on the Tongue

The many crevices and grooves at the back of the tongue create the right conditions for bacteria to form in the mouth. It’s common for the odour to emanate from the mouth when food particles get trapped in these crevices.

Most bad breath bacteria accumulate at the back of the tongue, meaning some normal tongue scrubbing might not solve the problem. You can use safe-to-swallow substances that are designed to fight bad-breath bacteria.

Other Common Causes of Bad Breath

Consuming flavourful drinks and food

Eating foods such as garlic, onions and specific spices and vegetables can lead to bad breath. These foods enter your bloodstream and end up in the lungs. This odour build-up in the lungs becomes bad breath when exhaled through the mouth.


Alcohol is a major cause of dry mouth. When you take in a lot of alcohol, it decreases the amount of saliva in your mouth. This creates favourable conditions for odour-causing bacteria to flourish in your mouth. Reducing alcohol consumption and taking a lot of water can help to avoid halitosis.

High-sugar diets

Aside from flavourful and spicy foods, sugary and high-protein diets can also cause bad breath. These sugars interact with the bacteria that naturally exist in the mouth to cause sour smells. When high-protein foods fail to metabolize, they release sulphurous gases that cause a bad odour in the mouth.


Whether you take tobacco through smoking, pipe or chewing, it can lead to various oral health issues. It not only leaves your mouth smelling bad but can also lead to gum disease. Avoid all sorts of tobacco products to prevent halitosis.

Poor oral health

Lack of proper oral health is the most common cause of bad breath. Food particles that remain in your mouth cause plaque if they are not properly cleaned. Ensure you clean your teeth and mouth regularly to prevent any sort of bacteria build-up.


Although basic oral hygiene might eliminate temporary odour in the mouth, it might not work for chronic halitosis. Chronic halitosis might be an indication of other health conditions.

If you have any concerns about your bad breath, contact our dental office in NW Calgary.

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